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Happy Holidays To The World! Band Aid Perform ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

by on Friday, December 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

Whoever you are, whatever your beliefs, whatever is your situation, I wish every single one of you happiness and good health this Holiday Season, and beyond!

Please don’t forget to notice those who’ve fallen on hard times — the less fortunate amongst us — and don’t allow them to become the invisible.  Please help them in anyway you can.

And don’t let any party or politician destroy your sense of hope for a better world.  Change has never come easily.

Here’s to a better year!

The original Band Aid perform their fabulous hit from the early 80s:  ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?’  Enjoy!

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This track can be downloaded here: Band Aid - Now That's What I Call Christmas! - Do They Know It's Christmas?

Obama’s Betrayal Of The Left Spells Problems For The Democratic Party

by on Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

Back when Candidate Obama was working the campaign trail across the country, his message of hope — of overcoming entrenched interests in pursuit of meaningful and necessary change — inspired and stirred a nation.  He marketed his message in an ingenious mantra, “Yes we can,” that conjured up the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.; one who by sheer will, determination, and inspiration had overcome monumental — institutionalized — adversity.

Obama’s message, his symbolism, and his command of issues awoke a sleeping giant in this country: a grass-routes movement high on populism, and deeply suspicious of beltway elites and special interests.  He’d effectively tapped into this spirit across people of all ethnicities, races, religions, and economic backgrounds.  He resonated with them in a way that helped to distinguish himself from his opponent Hillary Clinton, a centrist, whose brand had long been associated with special interest influence.

What Obama effectively stirred up in this country has turned out to be a mixed blessing for the Democratic Party, a party which had strategically repositioned itself to the center as far back as the 1990s, by embracing many of the same corporate interests that had historically backed Republicans.  Since the Clinton years, Democrats successfully placated the Left by throwing them a few bones here and there, while doing the bidding of entrenched interests on more significant and complex issues (like trade, health care, credit card legislation, bankruptcy laws, etc).

Obama made the mistake of believing he could run as ‘Obama the populist,’ to then transform into and govern as ‘Obama the centrist’.  Perhaps he’d merely allowed himself to get sucked into championing populist positions he wasn’t sincerely passionate about during the long and contentious campaign.  Let’s face it, of the three major contenders in the Democratic Primaries, John Edwards started out as the quintessential ‘populist candidate.’  Obama moved more and more in that direction as the primaries continued, and Obama’s delivery of these populist messages became so well received, that I sometimes wonder if at some point he and his campaign just made a strategic decision to ride out the populist wave.  You can see how he might have gotten caught up in it all — the exhilaration of “moving” and “inspiring” the masses; seeing tens of thousands of people queued-up enthusiastically in the rain for hours, to hear how you’re going to finally take them to the promised land, and deliver meaningful change.  I admittedly was one of those waiting in line, in the rain, for five hours, in Chapel Hill (ruined my shoes, btw). 🙂

President Obama and the Democratic Party have a big problem on their hands.  They awakened something of a populist giant, only to betray their hopes, and to leave them feeling more cynical about their government than ever before.  Thomas Jefferson astutely said, “An injured friend is the bitterest of foes.”  I can think of no better expression that more accurately captures the feeling on the Left towards the Democratic Party at this very moment.

Few on the Left blame Republican obstructionism for Washington’s inability to pass a robust public option, or for any of Obama’s other broken campaign promises.  We expect nothing more from the Republicans — our lying, propagandizing, obstructive foes.  We have watched the President and the White House very closely since his election, and are perplexed by his lack of conviction, fortitude, and leadership; his refusal to advocate strongly for his own — supposed — legislative priorities; his nonexistent efforts in getting his campaign promises pushed through two Democratic houses.  Obama had been awarded an overwhelming mandate to implement the change HE PROMISED, and he’s clearly not up to the task.  No, the Left lays the blame squarely at Obama’s feet.

And that may prove to be calamitous for the Democratic Party in the 2010 and 2012 elections — a party whom the Left resented for eight long years, as they signed their names to some of the most catastrophic — often illegal — Bush initiatives imaginable.  Obama and the Democratic Party are still actively covering up Bush’s war crimes — immunizing these neo-cons from ever being held accountable; most likely to cover up Democratic complicity.

The grass-routes enthusiasm for Democrats in 2008 was mostly wrapped up in a hatred for Bush/Cheney and a love of Obama — what he represented; and more importantly, what he advocated for: CHANGE.  Obama, for a moment in time, had reinstated the electorate’s enthusiasm for what had been a complicit, impotent, subservient Democratic Party.  Now that Obama and the Democrats have taken the easy route — tossed meaningful change on several fronts over board in order to accommodate entrenched interests — I suspect Left-leaning populists will abandon voting Democratic across all candidates, something they were all too happy to do in 2008.

Just a hunch …

The President’s Eloquent Words Are Beginning to Ring Hollow

by on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

After eight tumultuous years of deceit, incompetence, and ideological extremism emanating from the White House the entire world eagerly embraced the ushering in of the new American President and all the hope that his victory embodied.  I vividly recall the night Obama won: watching him give another spectacular speech on television, the tears of happiness filling the eyes of tens of thousands who ventured out into the cold Chicago evening to celebrate the country’s new beginning.  I remember seeing the faces of people all over the world – rejoicing, misty eyed at the historic significance of this momentous occasion.

President Obama represented several things to a lot of people.  He was an agent for change; an embodiment of ‘hope’ for so many who had lost it; one who answered to the people, and not the powerful interests (his campaign, after all, was largely funded by small $20-$50 internet donations).  He was masterful in articulating his policy positions, and after eight years of watching an incurious half-wit demonstrate again and again that he was unqualified for the highest office in the land, we believed Obama’s competency and honesty would right all that was wrong.  He would effectively clean up Bush’s mess.  Optimism ran amok.

And suddenly we’re in October 2009 – nine months after his inauguration – and all that hope and promise feels as far away as Martin Luther King’s final speech in Memphis, TN.  It has become crystal clear that the ‘change’ policies he outlined over and over again on the campaign trail have taken a back seat to his desire for bipartisan harmony.   It’s becoming obvious to all that this current approach will achieve neither.

The tens of millions who brought Obama to power were never about bringing some kind of reconciliation to the political establishment.  On the contrary, they were waiving ‘change’ posters in the streets, and yelling his ‘yes we can(s)!’  This grass routes movement was about the people – their lives.  Obama supporters couldn’t give a rats ass whether the Republicans and Democrats sang ‘Kumbaya’ together.  In electing Obama, the people rejected the status quo, and awarded Obama an overwhelming mandate to implement the change he promised.

And yet somehow Obama and his supporters’ messages must have got crossed, for he has tunneled all his energies into achieving Beltway bipartisanship, at whatever price.  Why?  Why is bipartisanship so prominent in his agenda?  Politicial disharmony in the federal government actually serves a vital role: it creates an environment of political checks and balances which otherwise would not exist in such a corruptive institution.  The last time there was harmony in Washington was immediately following the 9-11 attacks, and look where that got us: into the bipartisan authorization of the Iraq quagmire.

Each time Obama gives a new speech, I’m reminded why I voted for him, and then he and his staff proceed to undercut his very words.  He is unwilling to mark a line in the sand and mean it; unwilling to shake up the establishment; unwilling to make a few enemies in the pursuit of implementing the change he espouses.

The monumental concessions he’s willing to make on health care alone — his willingness to toss the public option, as well as to prohibit the government from negotiating with pharmaceuticals —  all in the name of bipartisanship, is nothing more than an insult to our sensibilities.  From health care reform, to forcing Netanyahu to end the ethnic cleansing (settlement expansion) in Israel, to pursuing torture investigations, to implementing meaningful wall street and TARP oversight, to climate change, to bringing our troops home, … the list goes on and on.  Either he’s just being consistently ineffective as a President, or perhaps we’ve all been duped.

This weekend, Saturday Night Live brilliantly flouted Obama’s inability to deliver the change he had once so eloquently promised us.  Let us hope Obama receives this comedy skit as a wake up call.  Because unfortunately, this caricature is beginning to stick, and before long it will define him.